The Wall Street Journal Offers Ad Recall Guarantee to Print Advertisers

Program addresses brands' hardship in light of coronavirus

The Wall Street Journal and Barron's Group will offer a guarantee to print advertisers.
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As brands shift ad spends due to the coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Group are giving potential clients an additional incentive to advertise in their print pages.

The two News Corp.-owned publications will offer an unusual guarantee to print advertisers who take out an ad between April 1 and June 30, the company will tell clients today.

The ad must achieve at least a 70% recall rate, a benchmark measured by Research and Analysis of Media (RAM), a third-party international research firm. If it doesn’t, those advertisers will be offered the same-size ad and placement for free within two weeks of the original ad’s run date.

“I want to do something that’s meaningful and benefits as many partners as possible, but is simple,” said Josh Stinchcomb, global chief revenue officer of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s Group. “We need solutions right now that can actually move the needle for them from a business perspective,” a straightforward offer without any “complexity” and “nuance” to complicate it, he added.

Stinchcomb said he wanted to offer a program while the Journal’s journalism has been “rich in attention,” which he wants to replicate for advertisers.

“Any type of meaningful guarantee that affirms our decisions by proving out positive ROI and favorable brand lift helps showcase the power of the medium and validates the investments that we make for our clients,” said Steven Bloom, managing director of enterprise partnerships and published media at Omnicom Media Group.

Publishers have seen a surge in traffic as the coronavirus has taken hold in the U.S., but media organizations have also been left grappling with how to monetize it in a way that is “brand-safe” for advertisers.

Advertising forecasts look grim for the rest of the year, according to the most recent forecast from IPG Mediabrands-owned Magna Global, with full-year ad sales predicted to decrease by 2.8% across all media. Print advertising, in particular, will be hit hard and is expected to see a 25% loss in ad sales compared to last year, instead of a 17% loss that the firm had projected before the coronavirus.

“[Brands] need confidence and assurances that this money will be well spent. If I can allow them to invest in more confidence, it’s a value add that I can bring,” Stinchcomb said.

Ad rates for the Journal vary, especially if the advertiser is contracted. A standard, full-page, black-and-white ad cost $277,200 last year, according to a 2019 rate base.

The new ad guarantee, which will be available to new partners and previous advertisers, marks the first time the Journal has offered something like this, at this scale, in recent memory.

“I’m putting some skin in the game and setting a bar that’s high for us,” Stinchcomb said. “This isn’t meaningful unless I put some in the game.”

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